[eDebate] [CEDA-L] Accusations of Illegal Debating

NEIL BERCH berchnorto
Fri Nov 2 09:09:48 CDT 2007


And that's why I qualified my response by saying I hadn't seen Shawn's 
students.  Matt indicates that the performance doesn't "[cross] the line."  
That may very well be the case.  I think, however, it is important to 
acknowledge that there is a line.--Neil


>From: matt stannard <stannardmatt at hotmail.com>
>To: NEIL BERCH <berchnorto at msn.com>, Shawn T Whalen <swhalen at sfsu.edu>, 
>Sherry Hall <shahall at comcast.net>
>CC: <edebate at ndtceda.com>, <ceda-l at ndtceda.com>
>Subject: RE: [eDebate] [CEDA-L]  Accusations of Illegal Debating
>Date: Fri, 2 Nov 2007 07:28:57 -0600
>
>
>Unless the performance has changed significantly since I saw it at UNLV, I 
>don't see where it crosses the line.  There is sexually explicit language 
>and a story about a hypothetical kidnapping victim being forced into 
>same-sex activity by the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.  Clothes stay on; 
>there's a bit of simulated sex.  It's all very theatrical and in fact 
>reminds me of political theater.  Most importantly, all the sex stuff is 
>grounded in theory, again blatantly and transparently so, like "here's what 
>this means, here's why we're doing what we're doing."  In my opinion there 
>is absolutely nothing "harassing" about the 1AC given my understanding of 
>either legal or organizational sexual harassment norms (assuming, again, 
>that the performance hasn't changed).
>
>As a GA for Long Beach I used to have to judge IEs and commonly saw things 
>like simulated oral sex, womyn grabbing their breasts a lot, gyrations of 
>every conceivable kind.  If the complaint in question is about the 1AC, I'd 
>hate to see what would happen if the complaintant attended the NIET...
>mjs
>
>
>From: berchnorto at msn.comTo: swhalen at sfsu.edu; shahall at comcast.netDate: Fri, 
>2 Nov 2007 08:23:34 -0400CC: eDebate at ndtceda.com; 
>ceda-l at ndtceda.comSubject: Re: [eDebate] [CEDA-L] Accusations of Illegal 
>Debating
>
>
>
>
>Well, now that I have a little context, I actually will offer a few 
>thoughts.  First, while CEDA has a sexual harassment policy, it technically 
>only applies to CEDA Nationals.  Other tournaments can (and often do) apply 
>that policy as well, though CEDA leaves it to the tournament (since the 
>CEDA policy could conceivably contradict school policies).  What CEDA 
>requires is that the general principles of its policy against sexual 
>discrimination be enforced.
>
>I want to talk about two situations that occurred at our version of 
>JV/Novice Nationals the past two years.  I think they illustrate some of 
>the complexities involved here.
>Year 1 (China topic):  Coach comes up to me after round 1 or 2.  Coach is 
>outraged, because a debater from a CEDA Northeast school has gotten almost 
>naked (down to his underwear), ostensibly to look at the "Made in China" 
>labels on his clothes.  The coach reports that the two women who debated 
>for her/his school in the round felt as though the other debater had 
>created a hostile environment.  Coach throws out the term sexual harassment 
>and indicates, among other things, that I could be in trouble with my 
>administration for allowing this.  We discuss this for a bit, and 
>eventually, someone says something about a procedure.  A light bulb goes on 
>for me.  I tell the coach that the first step in this case is going to be 
>informal mediation.  I appoint a mediator (another reason why it's really 
>cool to have Vanderbilt come to your tournament is that ML doesn't usually 
>judge, so she's available for things like this!).  Later on, I see the 
>coach of the other school.  I mention the situation to her/him and indicate 
>that there is a concern.  S/he says something to the effect of that the 
>"nudity" is not crucial to the argument (so why do it?!), so the debater 
>won't do it if anyone objects.  S/he is very helpful in resolving the 
>problem.  I relay this to the complaining coach, who is still not happy, 
>but who graciously agrees to leave things alone.
>
>Year 2 (Supreme Court topic):  Debater gets naked in a round and then walks 
>out into the hallway where he runs (not quite literally) into the parents 
>of one of my debaters who are donating their time to the tournament (note:  
>all of this is third hand, as I'm home recovering from surgery, though I 
>did make the final call on this).  The judge in that round is very upset 
>(and I believe feels harassed).  The parents of debater handle it well 
>(they just think it was stupid).  My tab room staff, etc. want to kick the 
>debater out of the tournament and have him removed from campus.  I overrule 
>them.  I am, however, absolutely livid with the coach of the naked debater 
>(s/he probably didn't know this until now), fuming to one person, "If s/he 
>wants to be a leader in this activity in the future (which s/he does and 
>already is in many respects), s/he can't have her/his students going to 
>other people's campuses and doing stuff like this."  Only months later do I 
>find out that the coach had no idea that this was taking place and was 
>angry about it as well.  I feel sheepish about being mad at her/him.
>
>Here's the point:  it's great that Shawn has an administration that is 
>supportive of him and his students as they test the limits of discourse.  
>However, it's not just your administration that you need to be concerned 
>about.  I'm pretty sure (virtually certain) that I could have explained 
>either of these situations satisfactorily to my administration (though I'm 
>not sure I would have wanted to expend the necessary capital).  There are 
>other hosts who could not do so.  Do you really want to argue that your 
>expression of artistic license outweighs the potential cancellation of 
>someone else's program?
>
>I was there, when after the initial "nude debate" at the NDT, the ADA 
>passed a rule banning nudity and drug use in rounds.  I voted against that 
>rule, because I thought it was stupid and unnecessary.  I expected that, 
>after the first incidence of "in-round nudity" (which was well thought-out 
>and was necessary to the performance), people would say, "Been there, done 
>that".  I was wrong.
>
>I still think that debate organizations shouldn't be about banning debater 
>practices, but, as Sherry points out, there are limits.  And one person's 
>challenge to the existing order is another person's sexual harassment.
>
>That said, I'm not sure the legal arguments belong in-round (though they 
>are reasonable to bring up with Shawn out-of-round as well as with the 
>tournament administration).  And, I haven't seen the performance of Shawn's 
>students, so I'm just speaking in terms of abstract principles.
>
>--Neil Berch
>West Virginia University
>
>
>----- Original Message -----
>From: Sherry Hall
>To: Shawn T Whalen
>Cc: Shawn T Whalen ; NEIL BERCH ; eDebate at ndtceda.com ; ceda-l at ndtceda.com
>Sent: Friday, November 02, 2007 7:22 AM
>Subject: Re: [CEDA-L] [eDebate] Accusations of Illegal Debating
>
>Just to play the advocate here, it is my understanding that CEDA has 
>specific policies against harassment in debate rounds.  I know when we put 
>an invitation out to our tournament and claim to be "CEDA-sanctioned" we 
>are agreeing that those policies will be enforced at the tournament that we 
>are hosting.  If people feel that your argument is in violation of those 
>rules, what's wrong with asking the tournament to take action.  I must also 
>confess that I am not as familiar with the CEDA rules as I am with the NDT 
>governing documents, and am not sure what a host is supposed to do in 
>response to such accusations.  It is also the case that probably every 
>University in the United States has policies opposing harassing language on 
>campus.  From my experience with various university policies that were 
>implicated at summer debate camps over the years, most universities prefer 
>that harassment issues be dealt with within the university before calling 
>in law enforcement (unless a physical assault was involved).  Is your 
>objection to last weekend's action that your arguments were characterized 
>as "illegal"?  Would you really have preferred that police be called?
>
>Sherry
>
>
>----- Original Message -----
>From: Shawn T Whalen
>To: Sherry Hall
>Cc: Shawn T Whalen ; NEIL BERCH ; eDebate at ndtceda.com ; ceda-l at ndtceda.com
>Sent: Thursday, November 01, 2007 10:45 PM
>Subject: Re: [CEDA-L] [eDebate] Accusations of Illegal Debating
>
>Hi Sherry,I really don't think its necessary - my point is that if someone 
>thinks that the law has been violated and wants it enforced, they should 
>call a cop and/or an attorney.  The debate tournament is not equiped to 
>deal with those claims.That being said,  our debaters critique the 
>heteronormativity in traditional international relations scholarship and in 
>traditional academic debating.  They suggest that the results of 
>heteronormativity have resulted in the structuring of terrorism and 
>queerness in similar ways.  They attempt to "interrupt these discourses, 
>informed by queer pedagogy, by performing a narrative which involves 
>explicit language and some abbreviated, fully clothed similated sex acts.  
>The accusation was that our performance was sexual harassment.ShawnShawn--
>
>I have to agree with Neil.  There is no way for anyone to add constructive 
>comments or opinions about this issue when they have no idea what you are 
>talking about.  Whether you want to debate the merits of the claim or not, 
>some brief explanation of what the issues are -- what is your argument?  
>what is the nature of the accusation of illegality?  -- is necessary.  
>Surely, if someone threatens to kill someone else in a debate round, that 
>is not protected speech just because it occurred in the setting of a debate 
>round.
>
>Sherry =
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